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August 19, 2011

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits for the Village of Bainbridge, Town of Busti, Town of Centerville, Village of Cobleskill, Town of Granby, Penn Yan Fire Department, Warren County and the Town of Yorktown.

"My office's audits of local governments improve their financial management practices," DiNapoli said. "These audits are tools for local officials to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide the best possible service these taxpayer dollars can deliver."

Town of Yorktown - Ethics and Internal Controls Over Purchasing Practices and Computer Use (Westchester County)
Auditors identified actions of the highway superintendent where his personal financial interests and public responsibilities conflict. The superintendent sold used equipment and materials totaling $28,670 to the town, and the town paid over $100,000 to a company owned by the superintendent’s sister-in-law and for which his two brothers were vice-presidents. Auditors identified irregularities by the superintendent in the bidding processes for various pieces of equipment. The superintendent's computer was used to view and store pornographic and other inappropriate images, engage in a political campaign, and buy and sell auto parts - for personal use - on a public auction website. Finally, town officials did not solicit competitive bids or properly bid for nine vendors totaling about $2 million and paid eight professional service providers over $3.9 million without seeking competitive proposals or quotations.

Warren County - Financial Condition
The county's past depletion of its fund balance, combined with the failure of county officials to effectively monitor finances and proactively manage the budget process, resulted in cash flow problems, deterioration of the county's financial condition, and a routine reliance on short-term debt in 2009 and 2010.

Village of Bainbridge - Internal Controls Over Cash Disbursements (Chenango County)
The clerk-treasurer is responsible for all phases of the cash disbursements process, including processing and signing the checks, maintaining the accounting records, and preparing monthly bank reconciliations. The board established a compensating control of the lack of segregation of duties by requiring signatures of both the mayor and clerk-treasurer on checks. However, the clerk-treasurer has the ability to apply both signatures to the checks by using a rubber signature stamp for the mayor, thus neutralizing the control put in place by the board.

Town of Busti - Financial Condition of Special Districts (Chautauqua County)
The board failed to repay loaned general fund monies used for capital improvements in two drainage districts.  It then failed to raise sufficient revenues to address those capital improvements within one of the districts, resulting in a deficit of $73,153. In attempting to properly allocate debt service payments among the water districts, the bookkeeper incorrectly adjusted the districts’ accounting records. Because town officials did not adequately monitor the bookkeeper's work or the districts' financial position, they were unaware that the individual district fund balances were incorrect.

Town of Centerville - Board Oversight (Allegany County)
The supervisor's records did not reflect a $36,000 liability and improperly accounted for $6,902 in surplus moneys as a "contingency" reserve, for which no statutory authority exists. Auditors also found that the town's accounting records were not suitably available for review. There is also no indication that the board audited or provided for an audit of the records of the supervisor, tax collector or clerk.

Village of Cobleskill - Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Schoharie County)
The board did not ensure that the duties within the clerk-treasurer's office were adequately segregated. All individuals who work within the clerk-treasurer's office have user access to perform all functions within the financial software and perform incompatible duties within the cash receipts and disbursements and payroll processes. Numerous purchases were made without obtaining proper quotes or bids. The village could have saved approximately $5,200 over the course of the audit period, if they had used the state contract vendor for propane and diesel fuel. The village also outsources some IT services to a third-party service organization without a written agreement.

Town of Granby - Internal Controls Over Selected Town Operations (Oswego County)
The board did not adequately monitor the town's fiscal affairs. The board does not monitor the budget versus actual results each month and its annual audit seems to be a cursory review of records.

Penn Yan Fire Department - Council Oversight of Rural Contract Disbursements (Yates County)
Although the department received rural contract revenues of $95,625 from June 1, 2008 to May 5, 2011, the council did not adopt policies or procedures for their use. There was no assurance that the same standards were applied for all members for expenses incurred such as travel, training, meals, groceries and retirement gifts, which totaled $44,400. The council did not audit and approve any claim prior to or after payment, or report on the financial affairs of the department to its membership. As a result, funds totaling $71,171 have been disbursed without proper itemization or documentation, for items such as credit card and travel expenses totaling $19,725, and there is an increased risk that department funds will be subject to theft and abuse.


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